I’ve been spending the past month using the Zeo, a consumer electronics device that measures sleep patterns and provides sleep coaching guidance. Schneider Associates sent me the device (much appreciated). I had just read about Zeo in Delta’s Sky Magazine and was curious – unfortunately, I don’t sleep well on business trips, which gets to be a problem when you travel as much as I do.
The Zeo stands as a proof point in the ongoing consumerization of technology. The only sleep studies I’m familiar with are ones from TV, where subjects spend the night in a lab hooked up to wires and sensors like they’re plugging into the Matrix. The Zeo allows the sleep-challenged to spend the night in their own bed with a monitoring device about the size of a headband. The data is fascinating. By measuring electrical signals produced by your brain, the Zeo records the amount of time you spend in REM, light, and deep sleep.
After a couple weeks, I realized that just seeing the numbers each morning wasn’t going to make any difference in my sleep quality. You can’t really make yourself get more deep or REM sleep (I think). To paraphrase Lord Kelvin, “if you can measure it, then you can manage it.” In this case, I was able to measure something previously difficult to get data on. The data alone is interesting but of little value; a behavior change is required to drive different outcomes. To this end, the Zeo recommends a series of coaching sessions to alter approaches to sleep.
When it comes to social business design, measurement is scattered, making management more difficult. For starters, businesses need to understand what to measure, why it matters, and how to do it. Where do you start? In fundamental practice areas: customer engagement, workforce collaboration, business partner optimization. The next step is making the data actionable. How can you change culture, process, and infrastructure to drive better outcomes? Behaviors must be altered to capture value.
I think that too often, people jump from measurement to ROI too quickly. If we take a different approach that accounts for the interim steps required to get from start to finish, we’ll be able to sleep better knowing how our social business investments are performing.
This is similar to the challenge I face creating brand strategies. While everyone is measure tactics through ROI, I advocate measuring strategy or ROS. Since each strategy and its business drivers are different, there is no set formula.
While the Zeo contraption does not tell you how to sleep better, it measures where you are: some kind of reality check. Are you sleeping enough? How well are you actually sleeping? People tend to have many misconceptions about sleep — especially their own sleep patterns. By knowing what sort of sleep you are getting, you can determine if you need to get better informed, get help or just carry on as is… Not widely known and certainly not widely practised, there are many ways to improve one’s sleep (in terms of quality, length, lack of interruption…). So, by knowing where you stand (or lie down as the case may be), you can certainly take action.
Personally, I would liken the Zeo to Google Analytics. It’s not because you know that your traffic is poor that it is going to get better by itself. Peter, send the Zeo my way if it is of no use to you!
Thanks for keeping it vague on the steps involved in how and what to measure. After reading this post I got some good ideas that even without a deep understanding of the specifics of social business design, I have some good ideas that I can now apply to a new collaborative space that my university has started to spur innovation.
And this focus you place on the space between measurement and ROI has also made me realize a big space of opportunity and experimenting for us to explore.
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